After looking at defensive tackle earlier this week, it's only natural to get into defensive end this time out. While I think upgrading DT should be a priority, I think the Bears are fine at DE. In this ongoing series I'll take an in-depth look at each position on the Bears with an eye towards 2011. Thanks to Pro Football Focus, I'll be able to give a different perspective on the players by showcasing their grading system.
Julius Peppers - signed through 2015 - Peppers had what many consider to be a dominating season without even reaching double digit sacks. His presence alone caused numerous offensive penalties, and the constant double teaming allowed others to make plays.
According to Pro Football Focus, Peppers was the 3rd rated 4-3 DE (+42.0) behind only Philadelphia's Trent Cole and the player that replaced him in Carolina, Charles Johnson. He was 11th best in his pass rush, 7th best in his pass coverage, and 2nd best against the run.
Israel Idonije - signed through 2011 - Idonije has switched between DT and DE his entire Bears career, in 2010 he was finally given an opportunity to start at DE and he played very well. His 10 sacks led the team. I have no problem with Izzy continuing to start opposite Peppers, but I think he may have wore down towards the end of the season.
PFF had him graded out as the 29th best 4-3 DE at +9.0, not to shabby having both DEs in the top 32. Of the 18 total games he played in 2010 his only negative grades came in 5 of the last 6 games. Again I think he may have wore down. Something that's worth mentioning; In 2009 Izzy was the 16th rated DT in the NFL, and his +8.1 was the highest rated of any Bears defensive lineman. Could a switch back to DT be in order?
Corey Wootton - signed through 2013 - Wootton started coming on towards the end of the season, and I'm excited to see what kind of jump his play will make in year two. PFF had his season grade at -3.7, but only the first two games he appeared in garnered a negative grade. Every game he played in after those two saw him with a neutral grade. And besides, he ended Brett Favre's career, that alone will bring him to legendary status in Chicago.
Nick Reed - signed a reserve/future contract - Reed is a little undersized at 6'1" 248, but the former Seattle Seahawks draft choice may be a fit for the Bears scheme. He'll be given an opportunity to stick around next season.
The Bears played Henry Melton at DE for a handful of snaps in 2010, and PFF had him with a better grade at that position (+0.4 to -8.6 at DT), but I think the Bears will keep him mostly as a DT moving forward.
2011 OUTLOOK - Brad Biggs recently talked about how much playing time both Izzy and Peppers had in 2010, and that the Bears need to find a 3rd DE to take some pressure off them. I really think Wootton can be that guy. Before his knee injury at Northwestern he was a terror, and going into the 2011 season he should be ready to regain that form. If the Bears don't think he's ready to take on that role, then I'd expect them to bring someone in, if they are confident he can be the swing DE I think they stand pat.